Broderbund’s vintage papercraft software

Broderbund’s vintage papercraft software

I had a real retro-techno moment seeing this software box from 1986. I remember it well. It’s Broderbund’s The Toy Shop, a collection of papercraft models you could print out and cut n’ fold to create everything from a catapult, to a carousel, to a steam engine (which used a balloon as its power source). Everything worked: cars rolled, catapults shot, zoetropes spun and flickered. Papercraft fanatics Mike and Lacey have put up all of the image files and build instructions for all of the models in the original Toy Shop collection. No C64 needed to access these awesome paper models.

The Toy Shop – 20 Marvelous Mechanical Models that Really Work!

14 thoughts on “Broderbund’s vintage papercraft software

  1. Matt Sparks says:

    This is pretty neat, I wish he had done due dilligence and gotten permission.
    His copyright statement on his page is a rambling “I dont know who owns the copyright, so it must be ok”

    just because he doesnt know who bought broderbund or because no one has re-released the software for non- C-64 platforms, doesnt mean the artwork in the program is not copyrighted. These models are under copyright until at least 2050. This guy has no right to publish them on the web.

    He’s a copyright/software pirate, plain and simple.
    He should
    A. find the copyright owner and get permission and take down his website until he does.
    B. Design his own original models.
    Make shouldn’t be encouraging this.

  2. boerner says:


    I was the one who sent the link to Make for inclusion on the Make blog after half a day of racking my brain trying to remember the software title I liked so much when I was 12.

    After I stumbled on to the aforementioned website, I very pleased to see that the work and effort that had gone into the product had been preserved for others to see. The product came out in 1986, and has long since been discontinued. I only found one copy of the Apple II version on eBay for $75 yesterday (someone will probably beat me to buy now…).

    I would have no problem paying Broderbund or the original developers for their work, but I have no way to do so. This is the case with many old pieces of software many many large publishers. I still cherish the copy of Marble Drop by Maxis (before EA bought them), but it can no longer be bought and is considered abandonware.

    I see this website as a preservation or an archive of what was (and still is) a great work. It can now be enjoyed by future generations. The website is also providing the information for free and is not attempting to profit from someone else’s work.

    Perhaps this publicity will encourage Broderbund or another publisher to re-make the package for modern PCs?

    1. jimmy says:

      And if Broderbund / Copyright holder have an issue, then they can send out DCMA’s to have it removed from reputable sites. That’s the point of those things…

      1. Maltedfalcon says:

        Thats like saying its ok to break laws if nobody complains.

    2. Maltedfalcon says:

      you are mistaking “abandonware” for “released to public domain” It has not been check out the wikipedia article for abandonware.

  3. boerner says:

    It might be impossible to even figure out who owns the copyrights…according to Wikipedia, Broderbund has been bought/sold/acquired many times since 1998.

    If I had more time/resources, it would be interesting to track down who actually owns the rights and/or the original creators of the work to see what they think.

    I can’t imagine they would mind. I would hope they would be flattered :-)

    There was a TV series called the Secret Life of Machines that aired on the BBC in the 80’s by Tim Hunkin. It isn’t really available on DVD. He actually encourages people to download the videos from file sharing sites and bittorrent so people can still enjoy them. Great way to look at it in my opinion.

    BTW, even the NY Times liked Toy Shop when it was first put out:

    1. Maltedfalcon says:

      That still doesn’t put it in the public domain. This guy does not have the right to republish this regardless of how good his intentions are.

      they might be flattered or they might be right now in the process of re-releasing the models as a book, website or CD and suddenly this guy undercuts them. stealing sales – why buy it if you can now get it off the web or the wayback machine… The point is this guy doesn’t know any of this, he just assumes, since C-64s & Broderbund aren’t around this is OK.
      Its not.

      He didn’t preserve anything. He overstepped his rights by stepping on someone else’s
      As a member of the MAKE community This bugs me, He didn’t make this, He stole it. He doesnt get a say in what the copyright owner wants to do with these files, If it’s just to let them sit until the copyright expires – well thats no fun but the owner gets that choice not this guy.

  4. Simon says:

    I say good on him for preserving stuff like this. I too remember this ‘game’ from my early Apple II computer days.

    The copyright laws have been subverted from their original purpose (to preserve cultural history). Matt, if this has to remain hidden until 2050 when the current copyright expires (and if the corporations have their way that will be extended) as you seem to suggest there won’t be anyone about who remembers it and it will be lost!

    As Jimmy says there are legal ways the copyright holders can deal with this (stupid as the DCMA is). With a bit of luck they try it, more people hear about it and realise how their cultural heritage is being stolen from them and take ‘back up’ copies so stuff like this doesn’t disappear!

    1. Maltedfalcon says:

      who says it is hidden or even lost?
      go buy a copy on ebay – you are now licensed to make the models, using the very methods this guy did,
      however you are not licensed to then put the files up on the internet for anyone to download and neither was he.

  5. Michael says:

    In my opinion, the copyright law is wrong, but Matt is correct. The laws are designed to protect companies who have worked to create marketable merchandise. The laws have been and will continue to be extended to protect the interests of companies whose characters and product, though created in the twenties, continue to be relevant and make money. I have no issue with this. However, I believe the laws are too broad. If a company fails to make a product available, it clearly no longer has value to the company and should, after a period of time, fall into the hands of society. Additionally, if a company can even be tracked down, in this situation it is no longer a company, it is an asset purchased by company after company, and anyone looking to secure approval will likely be shot down simply because, being an asset, even if not being used, it is wise to protect it, ‘just in case.’ Additionally, many companies feel the cost of filing paperwork for permission is simply too extravagant to warrant the consideration. It’s a shame, the law needs a revision, but without some strong arms in Washington, it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon; the pockets of the entertainment industry lobbyists who push for the expansion of this law are just too deep.

    That aside, even if one were able to acquire this software secondhand, and acquire the computers necessary, the ability to use it is hindered immensely by the fact the computers and printers are no longer supported. Simply, you can no longer buy ink cartridges for the printers supported by the software. The blogger details his great pains to capture these images in a digital format rather than an analog one, and it is clearly a difficult labor of love, not simply a matter of pirating and plagiurizing. He gives full credit and receives zero compensation.

    1. Maltedfalcon says:

      I so agree with you the copyright laws are all screwed up.
      They need to be almost totally reworked.
      however they are the laws we have now and they are very specific. However good intentioned he was, What the guy has done is illegal. Its not “Make”ing

  6. CameronSS says:

    I’ll be the first commenter to not complain about the copyright laws and mention that I have two original copies of Print Shop in the original boxes sitting here. One day I’ll actually get around to plugging in the Apple IIgs and laying with it.

  7. Terry Canfield says:

    Would anyone be interested in going in together to track the copyright and perhpas revive this wonderful software to alive and well status?

  8. anonymous indian says:

    looks awesome

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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